Nicholas Brendon

Many people take the spoken word for granted but 3 million Americans don't because they struggle daily with stuttering.

As "Xander" in the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, actor Nicholas Brendon won celebrity status. As Chair of National Stuttering Awareness Week, his starring presence moves the awareness campaign for those who stutter into high gear.

Brendon is producing a public service announcement for the Foundation with a personal message about his own concerns about stuttering. He knows "stuttering is a lonely place to be."

Pursuing an acting career has played a key role in Nick's overcoming his own stutter; and he still practices techniques he learned in speech therapy.

There are also simple steps parents can take to help children who begin to stutter, but a pervasive lack of knowledge on how to respond could make the problem worse, according to a study released in January.

A national survey of 1,000 adults by The Stuttering Foundation found that nearly 90 percent of parents said "slow down and relax" is exactly what they would tell a child who begins to stutter. Yet such simplistic advice may actually frustrate a child who stutters. As many as 20 percent of all children have disfluencies severe enough to concern their parents. The need is clear for better awareness on how to respond.

"The survey results indicate that it is more important than ever for us to focus our efforts on educating parents of young children about stuttering," said Jane Fraser, president of The Stuttering Foundation, a 56-year-old nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention and treatment of stuttering. "Professionals agree that early detection and intervention are crucial in treating the disorder."